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#1 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are unschoolers, academically speaking, but not necessarily in lifestyle. My oldest is only 5yo, and I am not letting him eat unlimited sugar, stay up until midnight, or not brush his teeth. I don't care if he grows his hair long (which he has already done), dresses funny, or whatever. But certain things are not okay with me and I am very comfortable with the boundaries we have in place.

But, I am getting kind of freaked out over ds's selection of friends in our homeschooling community. Many of them are radical unschoolers, and more times than I can count we run into the kids being very rude or mean to my kids and the parents say nothing. They run their life on the "no rules" philosophy, and that's great for them, but it's not so great for my ds. I do not allow him to be rude or mean to others. I don't punish or shame him, but I do address it right then and there. I apologize to the other child, and I work with ds on finding a better way to express his feelings or resolve the issue. There is no way no how I would watch him grab a toy from another child, whether it is his or not, and not address it.

Now, the hs'd kids that we meet that are just so nice that you are stunned, all end up being ones who are not part of a radical unschooling family. I don't necessarily know why this is, but it has most definitely been our experience. The other day at the playground this 8yo boy got off a swing. My 2yo had been standing there watching him, and he immediately came over to him and offered to push him on the swing. It was incredibly sweet. I had wondered if he was homeschooled just because he was there during school hours, and once I saw that I knew it must be true. I talked with the mom, and yep, they homeschool. Through our conversation it became clear that while they are not overly strict, religious, or curriculum driven, they do not lead a radical unschooling lifestyle.

This post is not about bashing radical unschooling. I know there must be plenty of wonderful children who are radically unschooled. It is about how worried I am about his selection of friends, because most of the ones we have been visiting with have been problematic, and most of the families here are on the radical side. It's gotten to the point where with the exception of just one or two kids from our hs group, the only ones that I am comfortable with him playing with are his friends from preschool.

I'm not really sure what to do about this. Ds is an incredibly social kid, and I find myself thinking about school just to give him a more decent selection of friends from which to choose.
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#2 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 04:12 PM
 
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We've picked up a lot of good friends for the kids at La Leche League. Ds1 and dd also play a lot with the kids on our street, since we're lucky enough to have a bunch of kids around here.

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#3 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 04:19 PM
 
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Wow, perhaps you just have bad luck (?). I don't know any homeschooled children like that at all, unschoolers or not, though I knew plenty of public or private schooled kids like that. I find that homeschool and unschool parents are the most attentive parents I know, at least 98% of the ones I know seem to be.
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#4 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 04:20 PM
 
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Wow, perhaps you just have bad luck (?). I don't know any homeschooled children like that at all, unschoolers or not, though I knew plenty of public or private schooled kids like that. I find that homeschool and unschool parents are the most attentive parents I know, at least 98% of the ones I know seem to be.
Exactly the same thing I was going to post.

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#5 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 04:21 PM
 
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My just turned four-year-old actually keeps calling our new homeschooling group "La Leche League." (Actually, because she says her L's like they are y's she says, "Ya Yeche Yeague.") Just because almost all the people in it were in our LLL group. So I second the LLL recomendation.

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#6 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 04:38 PM
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I've known many lovely, kind radical unschoolers, so they are out there... but I'm also wondering if some of what you consider rude is in the eye of the beholder. Grabbing a toy out of someone's hand is rude, yes... but I do notice that many radically unschooled kids speak more honestly and bluntly than other kids. So, for example, another child might ask to have a turn playing with a toy that little RU had, and RU might reply, "No, I don't want to share it." In general kid-society, that might be considered rude... but imagine if the two people were older, and one asked to use the other's IPOD for a while, or knitting suuplies... it probably wouldn't happen, unless the people were pretty close friends, and sometimes not even then. I'm just wondering if sometimes the issue is the different rules and rights that our society generally allows children, and how radically unschooler kids generally don't accept that sort of diminished role.

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#7 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 05:15 PM
 
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but I'm also wondering if some of what you consider rude is in the eye of the beholder....... but I do notice that many radically unschooled kids speak more honestly and bluntly than other kids. So, for example, another child might ask to have a turn playing with a toy that little RU had, and RU might reply, "No, I don't want to share it." .......... I'm just wondering if sometimes the issue is the different rules and rights that our society generally allows children, and how radically unschooler kids generally don't accept that sort of diminished role. dar
(Bold emphasis mine) This is just what I was going to say. Unschoolers, IME, are often less concerned with what people expect/want to hear from them as children and they say what an adult might say in a similiar situation. It can shock people that aren't used to it. It happens when my kids are around extended family sometimes.

I don't mean to minimize what you (the OP) and your kiddo are running into at all. Like Dar said, people come in all flavors. Even unschoolers lol. I think all you can really do in the face of unkind behavior with an unschooler is just say what you feel is best. Just like you would with anyone really.

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#8 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 05:20 PM
 
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I think you are right to some degree Dar, but I have had a similar experience to the OP with a couple of RU families - enough that I tend to steer clear. One family was in my home and their daughters broke a window shade and not only did they not offer to replace it, they didn't apologize or have their children make some kind of amends in another way. The few RU families I run into regularly are rude in other ways beyond issues around sharing (although there are those issues as well). These families are perpetually late, they show little/no respect for rules in group situations (ie letting a 2 year old continue to bang on a chair so that others can not hear the presentation or allowing their children to talk 'over' the presenter about things not relevant to the presentation,). Their children interrupt, won't share group toys, run in inappropriate situations (crowded theatre) etc.
I think they are doing a disservice to their children. While they don't have to agree with societal norms, I think their children deserve instruction in how to function within them until they are old enough to be able to decide for themselves whether to follow them. The logical consequence of their choices is that there are few families willing to have these families in their homes and their children are becoming isolated.
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#9 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 06:57 PM
 
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In our experience the homeschool classifications you read about in books and online are never neat and tidy in real life. For me personally, it has been a disaster trying to find families I respect by using labels.

"Radical unschooling" is just a label. I think people read into that a degree of uniformity that does not exist in real life. I never give any importance to labels like that over the vibe I get from a person. If a parent is inattentive or aggressive, if the kids are habitually selfish and hurtful, I won't give them special consideration because they use the label "radical unschoolers". They are not people I'm going to hang around.

People basically are what they are. I am looking for attentive, gentle, strong people as friends for me. I want ds to find friends that are respectful and basically kind to him. If I find that, chances are good the experience will be positive. When I looked for "unschoolers" I got such a mixed bag it backfired. Permissive, aggressive, inattentive parents use the label too. It's no good trying to know a person by that label, at least not for myself. Better to remain open and look for a type of person, not a type of label, kwim?

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#10 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, for example, another child might ask to have a turn playing with a toy that little RU had, and RU might reply, "No, I don't want to share it."
nak

I'm totally fine with this kind of scenario under certain circumstances. If we're at the playground and ds asks to use their toy and they say that, no problem. But if we are invited over to their house, and the child decides that ds can't play with this and can't play with that, and won't share the toy he's playing with, then yeah, it's rude. Ds just stands there obviously hurt. He's even asked me "Why did he invite me over if he doesn't want to play?" Then there's the grabbing, the yelling for what they want. Yelling at my ds when they want their toy back. Grabbing from my 2yo. Appalling backtalk to their parents. Saying generally rude things to us. None of this is okay with us, and it is what we are encountering more often than not.

The reason I posted this in homeschooling is that it is seriously making me doubt our decision to homeschool. Ds begs every day to play with someone, and the only kids available during the day at his age are hs'ed kids.
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#11 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I want ds to find friends that are respectful and basically kind to him.
Me too. And I'm having a hard time finding that in our hs'ing community.
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#12 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:14 PM
 
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What about the mom you met who seemed really nice and her kid was kind about sharing the swings?

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#13 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:15 PM
 
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I'm blessed to be involved in a large diverse homeschooling community. What I've noticed is that the social skills of 5-8 year olds are not particularly finely honed. They tend to be a loud, active group, full of acts of great generousity and wierd petty exclusions. I find this to be true to a greater or lesser degree, depending mainly on temperment, regardless of parenting or educational approach.

That said, there is one family of RUs in my area that are a walking advertisement for ru as a lifestyle....very blunt talking people to my ear. But the blunt talk is without rancor. The youngest is 15 and the most gifted peacemaker I've ever encountered.

I think RU may have made this family very aware of the power of words. I know the mother vowed early not to ask questions she knew the answer to. I think if I tried this for a bit I'd become very aware of how I *do* talk to my kids.

I do think at 5 with other kids, I stopped helping my dd be polite to other kids while they were playing, unless they started having trouble. Then, I generally helped them generate solutions until they came up with a way around their troubles.

What kind of rudeness/meaness are you encountering with the other kids?

ETA: We cross posted....it sounds so much like the age! I know it's frustrating. When the kids are doing that, I say, "What would you be comfortable with dd playing with? Is there something you'd like to play with dd?"

Edited again....what about meeting the family at a "neutral" location...like a park...it cuts down on the sharing problems ime.
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#14 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:15 PM
 
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I have had the same experience as the op with the few families that we've met who are on the radical end of the homeschooling spectrum. However, I've met other homeschooling families that have kind, thoughtful, but spirited (they are kids so there can be conflicts) children. I understand your point, oceanbaby, about wanting your ds to have other children to play with who share your/his values. I wouldn't reconsider homeschooling, but I would continue to look into different hsing groups, activities, etc... I also understand that labels don't always do justice to a group, so I don't think that radical unschooling necessitates rude children. Anyway, I'm kind of rambling. Just wanted to suggest that you look for other opportunities for your ds to interact with children before you scrap hsing.

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#15 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What about the mom you met who seemed really nice and her kid was kind about sharing the swings?
Oh, I definitely plan on getting in touch with her. Although she did say that her dh works on contract so they move a lot. They just moved here, and she's hoping they can stay until May.
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#16 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:24 PM
 
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Interestingly enough Karen, my child isn't unschooled, but I think I might unschool her BECAUSE she is prone to such behavior. Emma is a very loud boisterous kid who is very very hyper, she really cannot sit still. She is 3. She would require sedatives to stop moving in many circumstances, though she's getting a bit better with age. When she was 2, she woke up every morning to run laps around the house at full speed, and she never stopped except to sleep. She is loud verbally, everything she does is full tilt, as a newborn people would comment on how ultra alert she seemed, and once she became mobile it was a challenge to keep her still whenever we where out, so it probably seemed like we let her do whatever she wanted, but the truth was unless we where to have restrained or sedated her, at 2 years old her movements and sounds where larger than life.

I am learning to ignore people's opinions and to cut her a bit of slack to be a kid, kid are by nature noisy and active. She does have rules, we do say no, we're certainly not that radical, but she still behaves the way you describe and we're more likely to radically uschool her because of the way she is, rather than her being this way because we live a radical unschooling lifestyle.

(though she's not particularly aggressive or rude)
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#17 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 07:48 PM
 
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I will say our experience has been similar to your experience. I wonder oceanbaby if it is a possibility for you to try out activities with other homeschooling groups instead of just sticking with the unschooling group. If you are mainly looking for folks to have playdates with and hang out with matching style of homeschooling may be far less important than being a good fit in other ways.
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#18 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 08:02 PM
 
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Soundhunter I think there is a huge difference between a 2 or 3 year old with behaviours you describe and these families I was speaking of whose children range in age from 7- 10 years old. I have a high energy kid myself so I know a bit about what you are talking about. But I don't think it is appropriate to have the attitude that the rest of the world has to 'deal' because my kid's reality is the only one that matters (and I am not saying that you said this - its just the vibe I get from these other families).

Oceanbaby, I would agree with the previous poster that I wouldn't give up homeschooling because of this, although I understand the concern about finding friends you are both comfortable with. Hopefully you are experiencing a blip of somewhat normal preschool aged stuff combined with a less traditional way of dealing with it. School kids come with a whole different set of situations that may or may not be easier for your family to deal with. I hope you find some families to connect with soon.
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#19 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 09:40 PM
 
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I don't know. I struggle with something similar. Most of the families in our hsing group are lovely. Most are super -relaxed, in the unschooler category, but with families who are making suggestions to their kids. The nicest kids, not robots or anything, by any stretch, are the ones I think of as 'relaxed' hsers.

The free ones-- with no rules, no anything, seem to have more trouble getting along with other kids, although that's not correct, really. They more have no patience with playing with other kids.

Yet I wouldn't label the more difficult children as 'unschoolers', I would more lable their parents as "This is my kid, take it or leave it', and much beyond "I would not like to share this toy with you right now'.

I really don't know what the differences are...curriculm -wise. I've met a couple of families who want their kids to be 'edgy'. I don't know if that's the word...but kids a little mean, for lack of a better description. I would suspect these children might have a handle up on the 'more polite' kids. The world is a rough place, and I think a lot of parents are trying to get their kids to survive in that?

I hesitated to post this. But I do see some of this, and I am not sure what to make of it. I do not tend to think of unschooled children as rude at all...but there is another element that I would more call 'radical free- of -anything'. It's not about education or respect of the child. It's like a new sub group that is yet to be named. lol

But Ocean Baby, maybe I;m crazy with you, but I have absolutely seen this 'meaness' in hsed kids. In the past you could count on the hser kids to always be kind and empathic to each other, but I am not seeing that 100% anymore, and there are a couple of families we actively avoid. And it's not because of long hair or shorts in the snow, or rotted baby teeth or anything.
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#20 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 09:51 PM
 
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Oh, yeah. I would not give up hsing because of this! lol There are plenty of all kinds of folks who hs, with all kinds of kids. Our group is pretty diverse, with a mix of religious, pagan, nothing, and all manner of lifestyles. My dd's fav friend is from a Waldorf hsing family and we do not Waldorf hs.
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#21 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 09:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Soundhunter View Post
Interestingly enough Karen, my child isn't unschooled, but I think I might unschool her BECAUSE she is prone to such behavior. Emma is a very loud boisterous kid who is very very hyper, she really cannot sit still. She is 3. She would require sedatives to stop moving in many circumstances, though she's getting a bit better with age. When she was 2, she woke up every morning to run laps around the house at full speed, and she never stopped except to sleep. She is loud verbally, everything she does is full tilt, as a newborn people would comment on how ultra alert she seemed, and once she became mobile it was a challenge to keep her still whenever we where out, so it probably seemed like we let her do whatever she wanted, but the truth was unless we where to have restrained or sedated her, at 2 years old her movements and sounds where larger than life.

I am learning to ignore people's opinions and to cut her a bit of slack to be a kid, kid are by nature noisy and active. She does have rules, we do say no, we're certainly not that radical, but she still behaves the way you describe and we're more likely to radically uschool her because of the way she is, rather than her being this way because we live a radical unschooling lifestyle.

(though she's not particularly aggressive or rude)
For me, it's not this. I know lots of busy 3 yr olds, and even a busy 5 yr olds. That's not what I am mean.

It's older kids, a little mean, a lot edgy with parents who won't point out that it might be fair to not push the child ahead of you to get to the ball.

I don't even consider a 3 yr old a 'homeschooler'. That age is toddler, babies, who need something different. I am talking about actual 'school age' children.

edited for clarity and poor composition.
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#22 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 09:58 PM
 
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I think of us as radical unschoolers. We "strongly recommend" things like vegetables and tooth brushing, but no rules, really.

But we do discuss things, like how people feel when you say things like "please" and "thank you." (Although, social niceties like that sort of annoy me, I can't lie.) We discuss things in a very reasonable and respectful way. She's very receptive to that sort of thing.

Honestly, I have people tell me all the time how polite and sweet and funny my daughter is.

I've been thinking lately...maybe sometimes people confuse neglect for radical unschooling...? Because I don't think it means you shouldn't give your kids a heads-up on what society expects of them.
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#23 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 11:14 PM
 
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Radically unschooling, polite family here.

I think I may be taking this too far, but this conversation sounds like how predjudice gets started. I can imagine a conversation:

First Mama: "I was at the park, and you can't believe how rude those (insert country of origin here) immigrant children were."

Second Mama: "I know just what you mean. They just don't teach their kids manners."

If I heard that conversation, I would suggest the kids in question perhaps were having a bad day, that there are cultural subtlties I don't understand, that those particular kids can be jerks without implicating their entire nationality. I think that most folks here at MDC would be equally offended by the implications that nationality has something to do with being a decent human being.

So what is it about my choice of curriculum that effects my expectation that my kids treat fellow humans with respect? They aren't perfect, but gee, who is? Is it fair to assume that because I don't use a curriculum, I have no values? There are nice people and mean people in this world. Some of each group may be (insert teaching philosophy of choice here).

Sorry if I have gotten a bit defensive here. But I don't want to be painted with that particular wide brush.

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#24 of 200 Old 12-10-2006, 11:17 PM
 
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hesitated to post this. But I do see some of this, and I am not sure what to make of it. I do not tend to think of unschooled children as rude at all...but there is another element that I would more call 'radical free- of -anything'. It's not about education or respect of the child. It's like a new sub group that is yet to be named. lol
THANK YOU! Yes I didn't know how to word this. In the open hs groups (open to anyone) the behavior issues are often from a type of family you are describing here.

It's not about a philosophy of radical unschooling, but a desire to be radical, period. It's something else entirely. I don't know how to word this either but it is phenomenon I have seen. I don't know what to call it.

But the impression is that you are with a person who likes to be shocking, wants their kids to be edgy, and encourages a kind of in-your-face aggressiveness. There is an unspoken contempt for manners or politeness. It's like a sign of weakness. Homeschooling is part of their dedication to not do what they think is expected~to be different in any way possible.

It isn't about an educational or parenting philosophy.

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#25 of 200 Old 12-11-2006, 12:03 AM
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Oh, yes! I have known people like this, although we generally never stopped to chat much... so annoying! Actually, Rain tended to avoid their kids, but I've talked to moms like this... and yes, they have to keep bringing up all of the "radical" stuff they do, and they seemed almost proud when their kids refused to negotiate with other kids.

FWIW, my radically unschooled kid was often overly sensitive about other's feelings (and her own, too, which was more of a problem).

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#26 of 200 Old 12-11-2006, 12:25 AM
 
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and yes, they have to keep bringing up all of the "radical" stuff they do, and they seemed almost proud when their kids refused to negotiate with other kids.
Yep. That's exactly what I've seen too. In addition to some pretty shocking social aggressiveness~I don't mean immature isolated stuff~I mean barking orders to all the other kids, degrading them, ordering children not to speak to another child, that kind of thing...all with the parent looking on...

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#27 of 200 Old 12-11-2006, 01:26 AM
 
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Yep. That's exactly what I've seen too. In addition to some pretty shocking social aggressiveness~I don't mean immature isolated stuff~I mean barking orders to all the other kids, degrading them, ordering children not to speak to another child, that kind of thing...all with the parent looking on...
Acckk, that doesn't sound fun to hang around with at all. I've known some kids like that from time to time, some of them homeschoolers, but I have no clue if they were unschooling/RU or not.

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#28 of 200 Old 12-11-2006, 02:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if I have gotten a bit defensive here. But I don't want to be painted with that particular wide brush.
I was trying to be clear in my initial post that I wasn't trying to imply that all radical unschooling families produce rude children. I was trying to say that our particular homeschooling group (in a large city, so it's not all that small) tends to have a lot of radical unschooling families, and the we have had problems with many of their children being mean. On multiple occasions, so it isn't just a "bad day" kind of thing. My ds has bad days, bad moments, but overall he's a very kind child. And I'm tired of his only "friends" being kids whose behavior makes me angry.
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#29 of 200 Old 12-11-2006, 02:12 AM
 
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hesitated to post this. But I do see some of this, and I am not sure what to make of it. I do not tend to think of unschooled children as rude at all...but there is another element that I would more call 'radical free- of -anything'. It's not about education or respect of the child. It's like a new sub group that is yet to be named. lol
THANK YOU! Yes I didn't know how to word this. In the open hs groups (open to anyone) the behavior issues are often from a type of family you are describing here.

It's not about a philosophy of radical unschooling, but a desire to be radical, period. It's something else entirely. I don't know how to word this either but it is phenomenon I have seen. I don't know what to call it.

But the impression is that you are with a person who likes to be shocking, wants their kids to be edgy, and encourages a kind of in-your-face aggressiveness. There is an unspoken contempt for manners or politeness. It's like a sign of weakness. Homeschooling is part of their dedication to not do what they think is expected~to be different in any way possible.

It isn't about an educational or parenting philosophy.
I have run into these types of families too and I am always suprised when I encounter them(although lately, we have been seeing more of them ).
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Originally Posted by Dar
...Actually, Rain tended to avoid their kids, but I've talked to moms like this... and yes, they have to keep bringing up all of the "radical" stuff they do, and they seemed almost proud when their kids refused to negotiate with other kids.
This has been my experience with the families that we have met as well.

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Originally Posted by Dar
FWIW, my radically unschooled kid was often overly sensitive about other's feelings (and her own, too, which was more of a problem).
And this is true of my radically unschooled son too.
Helping him navigate his interactions with these families has certainly been a learning experience for both of us.

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#30 of 200 Old 12-11-2006, 02:25 AM
 
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I was trying to be clear in my initial post that I wasn't trying to imply that all radical unschooling families produce rude children. I was trying to say that our particular homeschooling group (in a large city, so it's not all that small) tends to have a lot of radical unschooling families, and the we have had problems with many of their children being mean. On multiple occasions, so it isn't just a "bad day" kind of thing. My ds has bad days, bad moments, but overall he's a very kind child. And I'm tired of his only "friends" being kids whose behavior makes me angry.
Oceanbaby,
Speaking as a RU, I didn't feel that you were painting all of us RU with a broad brush. And because I have noticed some of the same behaviors that you talked about in your OP, I am glad that you started this thread because I was beginning to think that I was alone in seeing this particular phenomenon.

Take Care,
Erika:

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